The only good reason to have children cruising is to lower the average age of cruisers from 89 to 86....
It's really not a conducive environment for kids to grow up with very very few of their peers.
So many cruisers say the kids are much more 'advanced' and can communicate wi adults like adults. But I beg to differ... The kids can't communicate with other people their own age!
I saw a group of 13 and 14 year old boys and girls meet for the first time, about 5 of them, but I couldn't really count as they keep wriggling, and none knew what to do to relate to each other!
In different ports its often one finds a child who really is very deficient in the normal skills a kid needs to survive life... Except to be able to open coconuts and speak to retiree cruisers.
The parents may think its so cool never to have TV and never to be exposed to the news and current affairs of the bad old big world, but that's setting the kids up to have a devastatingly bad transition back to normal life when they can finally escape the tyranny of their claustrophobic parents.
Of the group of 14 year olds mentioned above the ONLY freedom they seem to have is to be allowed to drive the dinghy! Most families don't have two dinghies so the kids can go explore and adventure. They can only go with mum and dad or be shunted around when older like a aquatic version of Mums Taxi.
If willing to subject your offspring to inferior school teaching (you) and a life of learning little about life then I think it's an absolute requirement to ensure they book into normal schools along the way (yes! They may have to study with a native kids!), combine cruising plans with other children from WELL BROUGHT UP FAMILIES, have extensive times in a home country, and have parents who have done some type of course in how to teach school work to remote located people.... And a whole lot more.
It probably obvious, if you are still reading this, that I don't have any children (though a rustling in the lazarette got me scared)... But that doesn't mean you can't listen to my view and take many, long, rational steps instead of just thinking its going to be a wonderful thing for yours.....
Agree with a lot of what you are saying, disagree with some too.
I have said many times (and actually got called down on Cruisers Forum) that social skills are very important for kids. Too many people seem to think it is not necessary, they don't need that, etc. What a load of BS! That has not been my experience. As I said above, when my kids get around other boating kids or other cruisers (especially adults), they can converse very well. There are no issues. It suprises me Mark that you saw cruising kids not communicating because I see just the opposite. They immediately latch onto each other and can speak each others language. They quickly fish together, swim together, play very similar games together. Like the article above, we elected to put in a large tv and Wii and PS3. It is very limited to be honest (they have to earn it via effort in school, doing extra chores, learning more boat skills, etc). But it gives them something of an incentive and something for them to look forward to. And lets be honest, the kids on the outside (the "normal" kids), all do it and it has in the past given our boys an 'in' to speak their language. But many other things they simply have not learned. One of the hardest for our kids to understand is bullying or fights. You don't do it in this environment (the occasionaly brotherly scuffle, but that is different). So they have difficulty understanding why other kids would be mean and how to respond.
I also agree with you Mark on the need to give the kids their freedom. It is tough!!!! I won't lie. THe Kayaks are a perfect avenue for them to get away from mom and dad and just be kids. We do set boundaries and give them a VHF (Chase also has a phone... one of many replaced!!). But you have to learn by doing and letting them out to explore. THey will gain a better appreciation and enjoy it more. I mean, let;s be honest again: I love watching sunsets, listening to Marley, grilling out, having a beer and having nice conversations. The kids will get really bored with that in no time!! You have to plan around your kids, and you have to be conscious of what makes them happy. Otherwise, I think you have lost sight as a parent of what is important and one of the reasons to go cruising in the first place.
Mark, your information is a bit outdated on the schooling and interaction though. Our kids participate in Florida Virtual Home School. It is actually run by the state of Florida. It is an online course, with many other kids, set curriculum, a teacher they converse with, principals, etc. It is a school without the walls. They even get a diploma (not a GED) when they graduate. THere are many outside field trips organized to get kids together and socialize. This is the future of schooling I think. More schools are going this route to save money. Not to mention, my kids are some of the top in the state (including the brick and mortar kids). That is because we also interact and help educate them. We are right there with them from start to finish and make sure they learn what they learn. THere are issues with this program for cruisers which I have discussed in another thread, but for many, it is a good choice.
In the end, we have to remember as parents, that our kids have to integrate back into the society many of us find pointless. Whether that is the real world or this is the real world is irrelevant. I met a two kids THursday that spent a similar life as cruising. One is graduating form U of M with a CHemE degree, the other is in his second year as a MechE. I met another mom and dad in Longboat and Venice who raised their kids on their boat. One is a physician, the other a psychiatrist? I cannot remember her background. I have also met a cruiser, indirectly, who raised his kids on the boat and his kid NEVER integrated back into society. He couldn't do school or understand other kids. He now plays the guitar for local bars, when he can get a gig, waiting for his chance to get out of the USA... with many doubts he will ever be able to afford it. I have also met two other girls (inetersting they were both girls) who were so neglected, i have no doubts their future is not very bright.
In the end, it is not the boat. It is not the RV or the house. It is the parents and the attitudes. Cruising is not easy for kids. That is why parents have to approach this with the right understanding and attitude. I still think for many families, it is a marvelous decision. THe reason there are not more kids out here has very little to do with desire (IMHO), it is a matter of finances.